Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top 10 Things Motorists Should keep In Mind About Bicyclists In Nevada

Dear Gov. Brian Sandoval, Troy Dillard of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Rudy Malfabon of the Nevada DOT,

On Aug. 15, I sat near the back of a church in Las Vegas for the memorial for Matthew Robert Hunt. I never met Matt, but he loved bicycling and had recently started a bicycle touring business.

As a fellow bicyclist in las Vegas, I felt a kinship and wanted to pay my respects for Matt, who was riding his bicycle when he was killed by a motorist. He died Aug. 9 from injuries he sustained while bicycling on Aug. 3 in Las Vegas.

I was moved by the words of his mother, Cynthia Finnegan, who delivered a eulogy that focused on the things she learned from her son. Then, Matt's brother-in-law, Steven Thompson, offered a tribute. Not a dry eye in the church. Matt was 37 years old when he left a wife and two small kids.

Matt was the eighth bicyclist to be killed in Las Vegas this year. That's one a month in 2015 and I'm sure you agree it's disturbing trend.

So, what are we going to do?

I have a few ideas.

Ten, in fact.

It would be nice if you could share the word with motorists in Nevada:

1. I know, accepting change as an adult human being can be so hard but it’s time to accept that bicycles are here to stay on our roadways. The days of telling bicyclists to go and ride on the sidewalk are over. Which leads us to . . .

2. Bicyclists are part of traffic. Don’t tell bicyclists that they are slowing down traffic. Here’s why  . . .

3. Bicyclists are simply slower moving vehicles. They are co-users of the road. So . . .  

4. When passing a bicyclist, motorists are required to pass with a distance of at least three feet between your car and the bicycle. And you are supposed to move over a lane if there’s a second passing lane. Also . . .

5. Don’t get angry about seeing a bicyclist pedaling down the middle of a lane. Bicyclists are taught in classes to take the lane. That’s because on narrow traffic lanes, the lane width is too narrow to pass a bicyclist so simply wait until there is no oncoming traffic and pass the bicyclist then. And keep this in mind . . .
6. You’re concerned that you can’t drive as fast as you’d like if you are behind a bicyclist. A bicyclist is concerned that he or she will be run over by you. The weight of the concerns are not equal. And another thing to remember . . .

7. Yes, car motorists and bicyclists are co-users of the road, but your vehicle is a two-ton missile and a bicycle is a 25-pound moving vehicle. If your car strikes a bicyclist, it could mean death or a catastrophic injury.

8. Bicyclists take safety classes. Motorists also need education. Every 10 years, a motorist should be required to take a class on how to interact with bicyclists on the road.

9. Road exam should include a bicyclist on the course and if a motorist fails to properly pass or interact with a bicyclist, then it means a failed test.

10. Eight dead bicyclists in the first eight months of 2015 is unacceptable. But we can change this in the future with some education and a change of attitude.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Drainage, Las Vegas Style

Pedaling Yentas Return To The Red Rock Loop

The bicycling yentas were back in action this morning as Scott and Anthony returned from August trips and we yentad it up while pedaling up the steep hills of the Red Rock Scenic Loop.

Scott has returned from a trip to Alaska, which included taking a side plane ride to glaciers, spending time at a wildlife preservation clinic, watching bears munch salmons and bicycling parts of a 230-mile paved trail out if Anchorage.

Meanwhile,  Anthony caught us up on taking the family to Disneyland and taking his oldest son to Southern Utah University in Cedar City.

We're all from New York, so all conversations are held in New Yorkese, of course.

All the time, we're pedaling amid this


Friday, August 21, 2015

Relief To Summer Temps Are Here -- Especially At Dawn

It's August 21 and summer is moving into its final month.

It's been a blistering past week in metro Las Vegas with temps in the 105-110 during the day.

But the days are growing shorter and there's less light earlier in the mornings, which means it's also cooler. As in 71 degrees cooler as I biked on 159 out of Summerlin to the Red Rock Scenic Loop.

There were more bicyclists on the Loop than motorist at 6:30 a.m. Always a good sign.

I have already counted today as a good day because I have cycled the Scenic Loop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2 BLM Bridges = $5 Million

In three years I have not seen any wash flooding along the 13-mile Red Rock Scenic Drive.

But I suppose the Bureau of Land Management folks know better and the Federal Highway Administration paid $5 million (actually $4,938,837.60) for a company to build two bridges on the loop at Mile 3 and Mile 9.

Above is the first bridge, while below is the second bridge.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Crossing The Vegas Valley, From One Side to the Other

Most mornings I pedal into an through Red Rock Canyon for the scenery that attracts people from all points West.

But this morning, on a Saturday, I crossed the Vegas Valley from the west side of Summerlin to the end of the road on Washington Avenue on the valley's eastern tip.

It was a 43-mile ride with about 1,700 feet of elevation gain.

Near the top of Washington Avenue on the east side, I saw a house with that sign that leads this post.

You see the Red Rock Canyon photos all the time but here's a look at the rugged east side.

On the way back up Alta Drive to Summerlin, I sought shade under a pavilion and saw a fellow bicyclist-reader at Tivoli Village. It's important to note that the people who run Summerlin want you to know that Tivoli Village is NOT in Summerlin.

And man it was hot out there -- on Alta Drive near Buffalo it was 108 at 11:30 am

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Another Las Vegas Bicyclist Is Dead -- And Where's The Outrage?

People who know me know I bike everywhere.

I have bicycled across the country twice solo and have biked in every major city in the country except Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. There's not a place where I think you can't ride a bicycle.

So, people with good intentions are always telling me, "Be safe," when I take off on my bicycle.

Believe me, I'm trying to be safe out here.

But you can help me much better by doing this: Instead of telling me to "be safe" tell your fellow motorists when they're about to drive a car to slow down, respect bicyclists as fellow road users and traffic, focus on the road, look for bicyclists and pedestrians and stay the fuck off your cell phones when piloting a 4,000-pound bullet on wheels.

You'll have to excuse me if I feel a tad irritated these days about the state of bicycling in metro Las Vegas when an eighth bicyclist in 2015 was killed by a motorist in metro Las Vegas on August 3. Matthew Hunt, a married father of two, was conducting a bike tour for one bicycling customer on the Strip at 8 a.m. on a Monday when a 23-year-old woman driving a Ford Mustang drove into Matthew from behind.

Six days later on Sunday, Matthew succumbed to his head injuries sustained from being crashed into by the motorist.

Matthew should be leading bike tours this weekend. Instead, his family and friends will be mourning his loss and celebrating his life at a service on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church. Then, people will move on to a Celebration of Matthew's life at the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort at 265 E. Harmon from 3-6 p.m.

Matthew's death means that metro Las Vegas is averaging one dead bicyclist a month in 2015, an outrageously high number when even one death on a bicycle is one too many. About 750 bicyclists die every year in the U.S. -- along with about 35,000 motorists.

Responses from bicyclists and non-bicyclists to Matthew's death have varied from "increasing awareness" to bicyclists shouldn't be on the Strip to "was he wearing a helmet?" (yes he was.)

Here's the thing. Handing out helmets, lights and reflectors are fine. But motorists will continue to kill bicyclists (and get away with it with minimum punishment) as long as bicyclists are not seen as regular traffic.

The fact is there is neither the political will nor public dollars to build an independent bicycle trail system to get bicyclists every place they need to go.

That means bicyclists will be on the roads and that means motorists have to treat bicyclists AS EQUAL CO-USERS OF THE ROAD.

It means making a conscious effort to be aware for a profile of a bicycle and not just a car on the road and slowing down and respecting a bicyclist as a co-user who just happens to be driving a slower moving vehicle.

It means focusing your senses completely on the act of driving your two-ton metal bullet and not messing around with a cell phone.

It means driving your car more slowly and easing off the gas pedal.

When a motorist drives into another car, that second driver is surrounded by steel, air bags and plastic.

A bicyclist is a vulnerable road user. So when you crash into a bicyclist, the impact and subsequent injuries are exponentially more devastating.

From what I've seen in the metro Las Vegas area, there will be regrettably more bicyclist deaths. I don't see any political leadership on the issue, and there have been a few media stories out there about the need for more awareness but nothing more than that.

The Department of Motor Vehicles must hammer into driver's heads that bicyclists are everywhere and that they are equal co-users of our right-of-ways. You should not be able to hold a driver's license if you are unable to safely drive a car with a bicyclist in the road and the DMV needs to teach drivers how to respect a bicyclist's right to the road.

I helped put up too many memorial white bicycles in Tampa, Fla, when I worked on bicycle issues there when motorists were killing bicyclists on Florida.

And the same damn feeling of hurt and pain is going through my gut here in Las Vegas because too many bicyclists are getting killed.